At about 5:00 AM I briefly wake up and realize that the normal feeling of the ship moving is not present. Not surprising, as today we arrive at Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. I take a quick look on our verandah, and sure enough, we are in port. The photographer side of me is very happy as we have docked with the starboard side against the pier and my stateroom is on the port side - with a beautiful view of the island.I take a few photos and then hop back into bed for the next few hours until our breakfast is due to arrive at 7:00. It’s an early morning for us as we have to meet at 8:30 for our excursion tour of Tortola.
When we first booked the cruise we looked at the excursions available at this port of call … ziplining - me perhaps but not Sandy … swimming with the dolphins would most likely have been what we would have decided upon. However, Iris and Jason had a particular excursion they wanted to do on Virgin Gorda and asked us if we could take the baby for the day, so we chose a bus tour and shopping excursion which she could accompany us on.
About 8:15 Iris arrives at our room with Brooke and we make our way to the theater where we are to meet. The paperwork allowing us to take her off the ship (since we are not in the same stateroom) has been filed and there are no problems when we check in. At the appointed time we go down to Deck 1 and check off the ship and take a short walk to meet our bus and driver/tour guide, Gus. (We meet Gus, get on his bus, no fuss.) Brooke’s stroller goes under the seats and her bag of necessities on the seat next to me and we are set!
We travel from the port up the many narrow and winding roads, up and down the hilly roads of Tortola where we are afforded some truly spectacular sights. We make a few stops where I get off the bus for some photos, but most of the pictures are taken from the bus … in motion and bumpy. Traffic here (as in the US Virgin Islands which we will visit tomorrow) drives on the left, making for some very uncomfortable moments for us used to driving on the right! Especially on the very narrow winding roads that we are traveling. Gus had spent 45 years years as a school bus driver and knows these roads well, but there is still that constant feeling that we are about to have a head on collision.
It is nice, though, to get out of the “tourist” area around the pier and into the actual neighborhoods of Tortola. We also get to see our ship from many vantage points along with chickens, goats, cows and other stray animals. One interesting sight was a long concrete wall along which was painted many scenes of what local life once was on this island.
After a while we reach our first stop - a small bar and gift shop up on the top of a high hill. We get coupons for a drink and most of us (not Brooke) get a rum punch. The gift shop was small and I usually don’t buy souvenirs, but I found two tropical shirts at a very good price which I like. They are very flimsy, but for the price they are being sold at, I buy them. Sandy buys a tee shirt. While others are shopping, I make sure Brooke gets something to drink (sorry Brooke, water for you - no rum!) and a snack before I take some pictures and then get back onto the bus in preparation for our tour to continue.
We are not on the bus 5 minutes when we hit a huge bump in the road and the backpack with Brooke’s stuff flies off the bus and onto the road. Luckily there is not much traffic, and Gus stops rather quickly, so I only have a short hike to retrieve it and return to the bus. I make sure it is well secured this time so it won’t happen again.
After driving a while we come to our featured stop at Pussers Landing which is the shopping part of the tour. This is definitely here for the tourists, but Sandy has fun looking through the shops and even buying some banana jam from one of them. Brooke and I sit at the marina, people watching while we wait for Sandy and then return to the bus. From here we wind our way back to the ship and back on board.
Our first stop is at Cabanas where we have some lunch and then back to our stateroom where we hope Brooke will take a nap. After one and a half episodes of Doc McStuffins, she curls up with her pink blanket and falls asleep. Sandy and I take the cue from her and nap as well until Iris shows up to retrieve her.
Tonight is Pirate night on the Fantasy and our normal dinner rotation calls for us to be back at Royal Court, but instead we have booked dinner at Palo tonight, and Brooke will be spending three hours in the nursery. When we made the reservations for Palo, there were no tables of 4 available so we each booked a table of 2 separately and would ask when we checked in if we could sit together. Sandy and I arrived first, and before I could even ask, we were told that they had automatically put us together and asked if that was okay. That’s the Disney attention to detail!
On our first two Disney cruises aboard the Magic and the Wonder, Palo was a buffet type restaurant, but here it was a full service situation. From appetizer through dessert, we had a wonderful meal (I had the osso buco) served by a very personable server. For desert we all had the signature chocolate soufflé which was as good as ever.
After dinner I went off to see the ventriloquist who I missed earlier in the week and was now performing in one of the night clubs with a bit more adult act.
Our next port of call is tomorrow at St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands which is actually so close that we were able to see it from the top of one of the hills of Tortola. Our excursion isn’t quite as early tomorrow.